Arsene Wenger is a man who loves statistics, so could this be why he allegedly turned down the chance to sign Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez this summer?
Despite being heavily linked with a move to Arsenal earlier in the summer, it appears that Mahrez could be signing for Roma instead after Leicester knocked back an opening bid of £30m, according to the Daily Mail.
The Serie A club are looking to replace Mohamed Salah, who recently joined Liverpool for a reported £34m.
Although the Gunners appear to have set their sights on Monaco winger, 21-year-old Thomas Lemar, some may question why Arsene Wenger didn’t go for the more experienced Mahrez, who won player of the season in 2015/16, over the young France international.
The answer could be down to asking price, since the Foxes allegedly increased the 26-year-old’s fee from £35m to a reported £50m overnight, or it could be down to stats.
During Leicester’s unprecedented title-winning campaign in 2015/16, not only did Mahrez win player of the season, he scored 17 Premiership goals and assisted 10.
The Algeria international was also involved in 31 sequences, which, put simply by Goal, are defined as ‘uninterrupted passages of play where the ball is in possession of one team, they are ended by defensive actions, stoppages in play or a shot.’
He was also involved in 45% of his team’s goals.
Last season, Mahrez was involved a third of his side’s goals and just 16 sequences, showing that he was involved less often in effective build-up play and more involved in moves that broke down.
While this isn’t exclusively his fault as Leicester were disappointing in general last season, a far more damning stat is that he only scored six Premiership goals and assisted four.
Since 2014/15, only two players have managed 10+ goals & assists in a single Premier League season.
15/16: R. Mahrez
16/17: A. Sanchez pic.twitter.com/UevqrjIcpk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 24, 2017
According to Squawka, Mahrez also created 67 chances in 2015/16, compared to just 50 last season.
Meanwhile, over in Ligue 1, Lemar created 70 and had a pass accuracy of 84% compared to 78%, suggesting that Mahrez’s asking price wasn’t really the issue. It was his lack of potential. Although both factors probably contributed.